The Number of conscripts levied in States East of the Mississippi river.
The following report of the Superintendent
of Conscription has been transmitted to the Confederate Senate by the Secretary of War
It will be found exceedingly interesting containing, as it does, information that has been much sought after, but which is now, for the first time, given to the public:
Your reference of the following resolution was received at this office on the 17th instant:
, That the Secretary of War
be instructed to inform the Senate, with as little delay as possible, what number of conscript soldiers have been levied in each State of the Confederacy
and placed in service in the field; whether there has been any failure to execute the law of conscription in any State by reason of any cause other than its occupation by the enemy; if so, why it has not been executed with uniformity in all localities where the operations of the enemy have not prevented."
The following exhibits the number of conscripts assigned to the army from camps of instruction, as furnished by the reports of the commandants of conscripts of the respective States:
, 13,933; North Carolina
, 21,348; South Carolina
, 9,120; Georgia
, 8,993; Alabama
, 14,875, exclusive of operations of General Pillow
, 8,, exclusive of operations of General Pillow
, 362, since January, 1864; East Louisiana
, 81, for part July, August and September, 1864; East Tennessee
It is conjectured that nearly an equal number have gone into the service, and been placed on rolls, who are not recorded in the camps of instruction,-- The returns are accurate in the four States of Virginia
, North Carolina
, South Carolina
In the month of June, 1863 the matter of conscription in the States of Florida
was taken from the control of this bureau and placed in the hands of Brigadier-General Pillow
, who continued to administer it until January, 1864.
This bureau has never been able to obtain any record or report of the operation of conscription in those States during that period of seven months. It is believed none exist.
Much of the year 1864 was exhausted in the endeavor to get rid of the system of General Pillow
and re-establish a more uniform and efficient service.
It is believed the returns, since March, 1864, from those States are nearly correct.
In the States of Florida
there has been "failure" to execute the law of conscription for the reasons stated above. --In the other States it has been executed with as much uniformity and vigor as the agencies assigned to the duty and the circumstances of the country would allow.
Where there have appeared diversities they have resulted from the difference in the efficiency of officers, the opposition of State authorities, the resistance of communities, and the exercise of the discretion vested in the Executive
In many cases, localities ordering on the lines of the enemy have required different proceedings from those applicable to the interior.
In some of these, great leniency was necessary; in some, such rigor as induced the Executive
to charge military commanders with the service.
In some sections the condition of the populations demanded leniency, others admitted the utmost rigor.
Since January, 1864, in all the States east of the Mississippi
, the same general system has prevailed.
Instructions to local officers have been uniform, with the special variations indicated.
The difference in the returns of the four Eastern States is fully accounted for, thus: In Virginia
and South Carolina
there has never been exhibited the slightest opposition to the conscription law, and after its passage, large numbers of men passed into the service without being compelled to go through the camps, thus evading the law on one point to obey it in another way. In North Carolina
, there was popular and constituted resistance.
The consequence was that while in Virginia
there were but fourteen thousand conscripts, there are supposed to be sixteen thousand quasi
volunteers; while in North Carolina
there are 21,500 conscripts, and, perhaps, less than 8,000 quasi
the case is different, and presents this aspect: That so violent was the prejudice against conscription that only about 9,000 have been returned, and yet, the people choosing their own mode of going into service, have sent, it is supposed, about 26,000 quasi
The constant and persistent efforts of this bureau has been to preserve uniformity and palliate all inevitable disturbances in the administration of the law.
I remain, most respectfully,
Your obedient servant, John A. Preston